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Computer model predicts extreme weather earlier

Charlie McKillop, Wednesday July 3, 2013 - 17:15 EST
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Flooded cane fields are a reality most cane growers endure, but better forecasting will help - ABC

Researchers say a new computer model will accurately predict extreme weather events one year in advance.

They've developed a forecasting algorithm that predicts the onset of an El Nino pattern by investigating the interactions between sea surface temperatures measured in the equatorial Pacific and the rest of the ocean.

The University of Southern Queensland's Professor Roger Stone says it'll approximately double the lead time provided by existing forecasting methods, with immense benefits for farmers.

"The sugar mills can start to plan their operations a lot earlier. The people exporting the crop can realise they're not going to be able to export as big a crop as usual, which means they may not forward sell as huge a crop, and so on.

"And farmers, growers themselves can get ready. Instead of putting in irrigation equipment, they may get tractors with fat tyres, they may harvest the wet blocks first, look out for disease and so on in the cane.

"That's worth hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars just knowing that and that then feeds into the economy. That's important in itself, let alone in those types of years we tend to have more intense tropical cyclones, more tropical cyclone damage coming into the Queensland coast.

"So, you can pick that up with these new types of models, back about eight months before it happens, in certain types of years using these new Coupled General Circulation (CGC) models."


© ABC 2013

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